Michael Cohen was secretly recorded by actor Tom Arnold talking about his crimes and Trump

Christal Hayes

WASHINGTON – Michael Cohen, the president's former lawyer and soon-to-be prison inmate, was secretly recorded by actor and comedian Tom Arnold discussing the crimes he's pleaded guilty to and how his life has been turned upside down over the last year. 

Throughout the call, which was obtained by the Wall Street Journal, Cohen said he was innocent of several of the crimes he's admitted to, calling the three-year sentence he was given a surprise. Cohen also talked about his family, his former boss, President Donald Trump, and his legal nemesis, Michael Avenatti, dubbing Avenatti's current legal trouble a "karma boomerang."

"You would think that you would have folks, you know, stepping up and saying, ‘You know what, this guy’s lost everything,'" Cohen said during the call, detailing the effects to his family and business, according to the Journal.

Cohen is expected to report to prison on May 6. He pleaded guilty to a number of charges, including tax fraud, making a false statement to a bank, lying to Congress and campaign finance violations. 

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But during the call, Cohen appeared to walk back some of his guilty admissions. "There is no tax evasion," he said, according to the Journal. "It's a lie." 

Cohen is known for secretly recording both clients and journalists. Investigators seized dozens of his tapes, including at least one recorded conversation Cohen had with Trump discussing a payment to payment to a former Playboy model who alleged an affair with the president. 

Lanny Davis, an attorney for Cohen, acknowledged the authenticity of the taped conversation between Cohen and Arnold, saying nothing Cohen said contradicted previous statements he'd make about the investigations encircling his personal business and work for Trump.

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"I would also add the important words used by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and others, in describing Michael Cohen’s cooperation and testimony as 'credible' addressing the 'core' issues involved in his investigation," Davis said. 

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During the March 25 call, Cohen called himself "a man all alone" and said all his legal misfortune started because Trump "had an affair with a porn star," a reference to Stormy Daniels, who Cohen paid $130,000 in hopes of quieting her claims of an affair with Trump. The payment led to Cohen being charged with violating campaign finance laws as the payment was made just days before the 2016 presidential election. 

"My family’s happiness, and my law license," Cohen said during the call. "I lost my business…my insurance, my bank accounts, all for what? All for what? Because Trump, you know, had an affair with a porn star? That’s really what this is about."

Cohen also took aim at Daniels' former attorney, Michael Avenatti, whose legal attacks on Cohen and Trump helped lead to charges against Cohen. Since then, Avenatti has also faced legal trouble of his own. Federal prosecutors over the last month have filed a host of charges against the brash California attorney, alleging he'd pocketed money from his clients to fund a lavish lifestyle, schemed to extort up to $25 million from shoemaker Nike, embezzled money and defrauded a bank.

"Look at what’s happening to Avenatti—it’s called karma boomerang," Cohen said during the call with Arnold. "The guy lied about me every single day, right? And the world loved it."

Avenatti responded to the remarks on Twitter, calling Cohen "dumb as a box of rocks," and explaining that Cohen used the word boomerang incorrectly. In a text message to USA TODAY, Avenatti added, "I'm still waiting for Cohen to point to one 'lie' I ever told regarding him or his criminal conduct. My record is spotless as it related to Michael Cohen." 

Cohen, who was one of Trump's most trusted employees and acted as a 'fixer' for the president before turning on him, also criticized the president and his policies during the recorded call. 

"I always knew, you know, who he was and what he was and so on, but it didn’t really matter because it’s—he’s a small microcosm of New York real estate," Cohen said, according to the Journal. Cohen added that he viewed Trump's conduct "very different" when he became president of the United States. 

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He then went on to criticize Trump's relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the president's decision not to apply new sanctions against the country after the leaders met for a high-profile summit and failed to reach an agreement on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. 

"They put sanctions on North Korea and he removes them because he likes Kim Jong Un, because he’s 'my friend'?" Cohen said, according to the Journal. "What kind of nonsense is this?"

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Michael Cohen was secretly recorded by actor Tom Arnold talking about his crimes and Trump